How high-touch companies can avoid crossing the “creepy line”

  • Opinion
  • July 3, 2015
  • Linda Palanza
How high-touch companies can avoid crossing the “creepy line”

Long ago and far away in a simpler retail environment, high-touch brands were masters at customer engagement. They built their success on understanding and meeting customer needs in the store, by mail and by phone. They manually tracked customer preferences and had longstanding relationships with store associates.

Then ecommerce shattered that retail universe, and high-touch brands were hard-pressed to keep track of their customers’ changing preferences and behaviors. Yet the new retail reality offered a huge opportunity for these brands to gain a worldwide presence.

Cross-channel data: powerful engagement vs. creepy

Fast-forward to today’s omnichannel retail environment with sophisticated technology that can help high-touch brands keep tabs on customer behaviors in-store and online.

Shared data among all channels empowers store associates with customers’ cross-channel histories and preferences, as well as collective trends. This information is valuable for engaging the customer, driving revenue (cross-sell recommendations) and fostering brand loyalty. Yet associates must guard against crossing that nebulous “I know-too-much-about-you” line at any given time, which can damage the relationship between a high-touch brand and its customer.

This may sound like hitting a moving target, but it’s not impossible. The beauty of omnichannel is that it enables “choices of convenience” for meeting a variety of ever-changing customer realities and needs. For example:

The fashionista who buys for next season wants to book an in-store meeting online with a personal shopper and wants the convenience of having all selections shipped home. This is not about instant gratification. Rather this shopper is a planner, setting her sights on the next season. Two services appeal to her: booking an appointment with outstanding service; and the convenience of shipping home, which sends the order back into the online channel.

On Thursday, the panic-stricken customer who needs a certain shoe for a wedding this Saturday wants to buy online and pick up in-store. In a few clicks, she finds the right size at a conveniently located store, puts it in her cart, as well as the extra pair of hosiery recommended (based on her cross-channel profile) to avoid a fashion emergency. She completes the purchase and picks it up on her way home from work. This is about instant gratification. When this highly qualified shopper enters the store, the associate has yet another engagement opportunity.

Shift from channel to customer focus 

In order to support true cross-channel engagement, high-touch brands need to discard the “channel engagement” mentality by eliminating online and offline silos. Their recognition/reward structure needs to inspire a customer-focused team approach where each drives a well-qualified customer into the other channel.

With proper credit and training, store associates will encourage interested-but-not-ready-to-buy customers to put items on their online wish list. And vice versa, the online channel gives shoppers the opportunity to locate items of interest at their nearest store.

Back to strategic basics

Key considerations for formulating your omnichannel strategy:

What does your brand represent? How do you maintain brand consistency across all channels? Who are your customers? Where are potential disconnects? How do you use the digital platform to empower your store associates to engage your customers and convert the sale?

 Linda Palanza is the chief operating officer at OneView Commerce, Inc. She has over 25 years of software industry experience working with large Fortune 500 accounts in the areas of retail, enterprise resource planning, supply chain planning, and customer relation management. She has industry expertise in retail, consumer product goods, manufacturing, healthcare, apparel and footwear, and financial services. 

This post was originally published on the Future of Commerce site and The Marketing Association Of New Zealand's blog.

​ ​

This is a community discussion forum. Comment is free but please respect our rules:

  1. Don’t be abusive or use sweary type words
  2. Don’t break the law: libel, slander and defamatory comments are forbidden
  3. Don’t resort to name-calling, mean-spiritedness, or slagging off
  4. Don’t pretend to be someone else.

If we find you doing these things, your comments will be edited without recourse and you may be asked to go away and reconsider your actions.
We respect the right to free speech and anonymous comments. Don’t abuse the privilege.


Direct sales: How multi-level marketing works

  • News
  • April 18, 2019
  • Sarah Dunn
Direct sales: How multi-level marketing works

The $200 million-plus direct sales economy contains many lessons retailers can use. As part of a wider look at this thriving corner of retail, we created a quick explainer showing how this business model typically works.

Read more

Direct sales: Meet the upliners

  • News
  • April 18, 2019
  • Sarah Dunn
Direct sales: Meet the upliners

We profiled different participants in the direct sales industry to find out what retailers can learn from them. Meet Isagenix distributors Adam Nesbitt and Bianca Bathurst.

Read more

Direct sales: Meet the business builder

  • News
  • April 18, 2019
  • Sarah Dunn
Direct sales: Meet the business builder

As part of a wider story looking at what retailers can learn from the direct sales industry, we profiled Isagenix distributor Ben Frost.

Read more

Social scoreboard

Zavy and The Register have worked together to create a scoreboard that compares how the top 25 traditional media advertising spenders in New Zealand have performed on social media over the past 30 days, updated in real time.

Concept to closet
Business coverage of New Zealand Fashion Week.
Town centres
A positive retail environment over the past 12 ...
Amazon Arrival
Keeping up with all things Amazon as it ...
The Retail Yearbook 2017
As we battle our way through the busiest ...
Hospitality enhancing retail
Some think food and integrated hospitality offerings will ...
The future is bright
We spoke with four retailers in their twenties ...
Spotlight on signage
At first glance, the humble in-store sign might ...
Red Awards 2016
The Red Awards for retail interior design celebrate ...
Auckland Unitary Plan
Auckland is changing. The Unitary Plan will decide ...
How to open a store
Sarah Dunn considers what it would take to ...
All things to all people
Kiwi retailers share their omnichannel strategies.
Rising stars
Retail's top young achievers.
Delivering on your promises
The sale isn't over until your item is ...
Retail in heartland New Zealand
Retailers keep the regions pumping, but how strong ...
Women in retail help one another. We spoke ...
The changing face of retail
Shifting demographics are creating big changes in New ...
The retail yearbook
With the help of experts in the retail ...
Retail rogues
We put the spotlight on staff training. Jai ...
Here come the giants
Topshop has arrived in Auckland’s CBD, David Jones ...
Window shopping: A spotlight on social media
Sarah Dunn and Elly Strang look at how ...
From retail to e-tail
Ecommerce has become part of the way mainstream ...
Loyalty in the digital age
How are retailers maintaining loyalty? Sarah Dunn, Elly ...
The Innovators | In partnership with Spark Business
Technology is rapidly changing the retail industry as ...

Leveling up: Exploring multi-level marketing in New Zealand

Is the $200 million-plus direct sales economy retail by another name or something different? Regardless, what can we learn from it?


A spectrum of retailers

  • Opinion
  • April 18, 2019
  • David Farrell
A spectrum of retailers

In recognition of April being Autism Awareness Month, retail commentator Dave Farrell considers the role of those on the spectrum in retail.

Read more

How on-trend is your retail business?

  • Sponsored Content
  • April 18, 2019
  • Sponsored content
How on-trend is your retail business?

New insights from Visa highlight five evolving trends emerging from savvy retailers around the world. We’ve taken these global trends and looked at how they are playing out with merchants in New Zealand, and we’d now like to hear what you think of them.

Read more
Next page
Results for
About us.

The Register provides essential industry news and intelligence, updated daily. And the digital newsletter delivers the latest news to your inbox twice a week — for free!

©2009–2015 Tangible Media. All rights reserved.
Use of this site constitutes acceptance of our Privacy policy.

The Register

Content marketing/advertising? Email or call 022 639 3004

View Media Kit